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Reader Question: Move to Sony A7R III from Canon 5D Mark IV?

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

Daniel writes:

BTW, I have asked you on this topic before. As a portrait photographer, fast and accurate autofocus is a deal breaker [diglloyd: I presume that Daniel means “lack of...”]. Shooting Canon 5D Mark IV today with all Sigma DG HSM Art Glass (20, 24, 55, 35, 55, 85, 135 and more to come). Yes I am a Sigma ambassador

Sony A7R III

I am kind of happy with the in focus results from the Canon 5D Mark IV, but it can be better and it is time for me to get a camera with better sensor with higher quality/pixels.

I looked a lot into the Fujifilm GFX, not that big of a change in operation/feeling from my DSLR. I Have read all your articles on the GFX as well. Leaving me skeptical if it will have enough in focus rate for my kind of shooting style.

Not a big fan of the Hasselblad X1D, just felt wrong for me. I also picked up a Sony A7R III, but it felt so tiny when I’m used to a bigger DSLR. But then again, maybe the A7R3 is the best choice for me? It would be a big step up in image quality from the 5Dmk4 and the eye focus feature along with the absences of focus shift due to way it focus with the selected aperture sounds amazing for my style of shooting large aperture. The glass would be no problem now that I am an Sigma ambassador.

Do you think I am on the right path? And yes I see my subscription have run out recently and I will soon renew :) Keep up our good work and hope you are well again after the accident. I frequently link the your stuff, in the community of Swedish Pro Photographers, as the best source about camera/lenses and Mac performance.

DIGLLOYD: in my view, shooting portraits with autofocus is a deal breaker unless the hit rate is very high—98% is what I want to see and is achievable as personal experience proves. I view this as critical: a fleeting expression can make or break a portrait, so focus-lock-and-recompose is a deal-breaker. While Eye AF once did not exist and we all had to 'deal', it exists now and it would be foolish to forgo the leap forward in hit rate. Eye AF is even a solution for selfies with in-focus eyes (rather than bushy eyebrows!).

Shot with Sony Eye AF
f1.4 @ 1/320 sec, ISO 100; 2016-04-29 18:16:29
Sony A7R II + Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

[low-res image for bot]

The only cameras that (to my knowledge) merit consideration on that hit-rate basis are various Sony cameras that offer Eye AF, like the Sony A7R III. Face recognition is insufficient; it has to be accurate focus on the iris of the eye, which Sony cameras deliver.

I also dislike the too-small camera body of the Sony A7R III as well as various ergonomic issues. Shooters like Ming Thein find Sony a non-starter for such reasons, but I do not—it’s a great camera for what it does really well (many things).

I just received the Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. While I feel it will be an outstanding lens for use on the Sony A7R III for handholding, I am put off by the bulk of the lens, which includes a 1.5-inch or so empty rear-end to compensate for the DLSR mirror box gap. This created a large torque arm that in my view is guaranteed to damage the lens mount sooner or later when used as I’d like to use a lens—hiking and such.

Below, the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Sony E-mount has an about 1.5-inch rear end extension as compared to the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Nikon/Canon. This creates a substantially higher lever arm torque which could damage the lens mount; any minor impact is more amplified by the lever principle not to mention just swinging around and all that mass out front. It also makes for an unbalanced camera + lens rig.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Sony E-mount
Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Nikon F-mount

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